2021 has been a transformative year for Bitcoin and blockchain technology as a whole. It was a year marked with many new milestones. We saw the first country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender in the history of the world.
We had the launch of the first Bitcoin Futures ETF to trade in the United States. We also finally experienced the activation of Taproot, Bitcoin’s long-anticipated soft-fork with a focus on enhancing the network’s privacy and security.
Throughout the semester, the members of the MIT Bitcoin community had many opportunities to learn from one another about the merits and challenges of blockchain, discuss the latest trends in the space, and contemplate the future of digital money.
In our meetings this year, we have covered everything from cryptographic primitives and data structures (VDFs, Vector Commitments, Verkle Trees), to scalability (Lightning and other side chains, Rollups, etc.), to crowdfunding platforms and mechanics (Gitcoin, Quadratic Voting). As always, we held introductory sessions on cryptographic primers and specific cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) at the beginning of the semester, helping onboard new digital natives interested in learning more about the unique potential of new decentralized technologies.
The MIT Bitcoin Club is a student-run organization open to all enthusiasts. Our mission is to increase awareness about cryptocurrency, improve on its use-cases and provide an open forum where blockchain-related ideas, projects, programs, and businesses can be studied, discussed, and developed. With this goal in mind, the club has organized the MIT Bitcoin Expo — a two-day conference focused on all things blockchain — every year since 2014.
This year, we are excited to announce that the 9th Annual MIT Bitcoin Expo will be held in person at MIT on May 7 and 8.
The theme for 2022 Expo will be Breaking Through.
First, Bitcoin adoption is breaking through many historic barriers and ushering the world of crypto into the mainstream. Major financial institutions, such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, have created crypto desks for their private wealth clients. Two Bitcoin Futures ETFs have already been launched in October. El Salvador has made Bitcoin legal tender.
Zimbabwe is thinking of following suit. Twitter has integrated Bitcoin Lightning payments into their platform. Coinbase, the largest US cryptocurrency exchange, went public. The incoming mayor of New York has vowed to take his first three paychecks in bitcoin. The city of Miami has announced a ‘Bitcoin yield’ for citizens from staking its cryptocurrency.
Second, blockchains are making significant progress and established projects are breaking through important technological barriers. Most significantly, Taproot, the first protocol upgrade to go live on Bitcoin since Segregated Witness (SegWit) in 2017, was activated on Sunday, November 14 at block 709,632.
This upgrade, which will improve privacy, scalability, and security on the network, allows for simple, complex multisig, and Lightning Network transactions to be treated equally on the network.
Third, the blockchain space has finally engaged in a passionate and highly-consequential debate with legislators and policymakers around the world, paving the way to potential regulatory breakthroughs in the way cryptocurrencies are understood during the coming months. It will be very interesting to see how the pendulum will swing and what landmark decisions will be made at the end, including by SEC Chair Gary Gensler, a face very familiar to the MIT campus.
Ultimately, we believe that Breaking Through encapsulates the continuing penetration of Bitcoin into the technological and economic zeitgeist of our time, as well as the motivations it has inspired across the entire blockchain ecosystem today.
Whether you are new to the space or have been part of it since the beginning, we want to take this opportunity to welcome everyone around the world to join us.
In the meantime, if you want to stay tuned on what is happening in the lead-up to the Expo, follow us on Twitter or visit our website.
Hope to see you soon,
– MIT Bitcoin Expo Committee
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